Medical Education Research

The research within our LUMC departments is conducted within departmental research programmes. The research programme below is embedded within the Center for Innovation in Medical Education.

Aim and focus

Medical education research aims to advance the knowledge, skills, and professionalism of medical students and educators by evaluating, understanding and innovating educational practice. It includes a broad range of didactical frameworks, theories, and research methodologies. The field characterizes itself with a close collaboration among medical educators, educationalists, behavioral scientists and technicians. Research programs in the field typically focus on addressing contemporary issues and questions in medical education, and on designing, evaluating, and supporting curricular innovations.

The Medical Education research group within the Center for Innovation in Medical Education (OEC) started mid-2016, established the year before by the Board of Directors of Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), to focus on medical education research with the ambition to strengthen and increase the visibility of the educational program of the LUMC both in the Netherlands and internationally. To that end, our teaching should profit from the research we do, and at the same time this research should comply with international standards for scientific quality and impact. The program focusses on three major research areas: 1) the development and use of Technology Enhanced Learning; 2) applying and investigating didactical Interventions and Innovations in teaching; and 3) Scientific Training and Engagement of medical and biomedical students. Although the topics under investigation are didactical issues of interest to the entire higher education community in general, the research group focusses on the biomedical context and strives to deliver outcomes that can be implemented in biomedical curricula in general and in the LUMC curriculum in particular. The research program complements the scientific and international strategies in education of both Leiden University and Leiden University Medical Center, and strives to be supplementary to other medical education research programs in the Netherlands.

Position in international context

The Netherlands is one of the leading countries in the world in the field of medical education research. Together with the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, the Netherlands publish the highest number of evaluative studies in medical education. When examining the productivity relative to the number of medical schools in the country, the Netherlands ends on a second place behind Canada in terms of scientific educational output. Within the Netherlands, universities such as in Maastricht and Utrecht are leading in this field.

While the LUMC only recently started to structurally invest in medical education research, the visibility of the group in this field within the Netherlands increased substantially within this short time window already, also by two nominations and a prestigious prize won at the NVMO congress in 2017. Moreover, for already many years Leiden University Medical Center has a leading and well respected position in high quality teaching and innovation in the fields of technology enhanced learning and in scientific training. Examples are the development of eLearning and a national portal for online learning in medicine, and the solid undergraduate program on scientific training and engagement in our medical school. For that reason these areas have been selected to form the basis of the research program.
The research program has been developed in collaboration with faculties at the Interfacultair Centrum voor Lerarenopleiding, Onderwijsontwikkeling en Nascholing (ICLON), Leiden University Centre for Innovation (CfI), the shared Centre for Education and Learning (CEL) of Leiden University, Delft University and Erasmus University, and the School of Health Professions Education (SHE) at Maastricht University. Collaborations with partners in the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and Eurolife are envisaged and will be aimed for. At present, the research program is actively involved in building an international network by collaborating in research projects and by presenting workshops and symposia at international conferences. Current active connections are with faculties in the UK, Belgium, Canada, USA, and Singapore. In the last two years research grants for this program have been obtained from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), CROHO Leiden, SURF, and Cambridge University.


The research group focusses on three main educational areas: Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovation and Evaluation, and Scientific Training and Engagement. These areas are described below.

Technology Enhanced Learning

Prof dr MEJ Reinders, Prof dr JA van der Hage, Dr ir PGM de Jong, Dr BP Hierck

Building upon a long and rich tradition of eLearning programs developed at LUMC, the subprogram Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) focusses on the improvement of learning by the use of modern technologies. The central theme in the program is Blended Learning. In order for TEL to be effective in classroom teaching it has to be blended optimally with the already existing face to face or online teaching activities. It is not always clear how this should be done and to what extend features of the used technology are of influence. Topics as pedagogical and instructional features, motivation, and engagement of students are being studied to see how technology can be integrated and used most effectively in teaching. Within this subprogram there is a focus on two different tracks: the use of online learning resources in classroom teaching such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs); and the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality in teaching (e.g. Microsoft Hololens, Google Glass). Current PhD-projects are:

  • Teaching modes and social-epistemological dimensions in medical Massive Open Online Courses. RA Hendriks (PhD student), Prof dr MEJ Reinders, Dr ir PGM de Jong.
  • 3D learning anatomy with augmented reality. K Bogomolova (PhD student), Prof dr JA van der Hage, Dr BP Hierck.
  • Designing a clinical learning environment to increase autonomy and engagement using self-determination. EC Hamoen (PhD student), Prof dr MEJ Reinders, Dr FM van Blankenstein.

Innovation and Evaluation

Prof dr P Steendijk, Prof dr JA van der Hage, Dr AJ de Beaufort

The subprogram Innovation and Evaluation focusses on the effects of interventions and innovations in the medical curriculum. The program aims to improve the performance of students and faculty, make the curriculum more efficient, and investigate underlying mechanisms. Evaluation of current practice will lead to new insights and will support the evidence-based renewal of the curriculum. By introducing and evaluating new concepts such as blended learning, flipped classroom and Team Based Learning the program will also help to improve the current curriculum. Current PhD-projects are:

  • Effects of teaching and learning strategies on conceptualization, metacognition and problem solving skills in students. M Versteeg (PhD student), Prof dr P Steendijk.
  • Selection of residents, their achievements and reasons for early drop-out. K Dijkhuizen (PhD student), Prof dr J van Lith, Dr AJ de Beaufort.
  • The right student on the right place – selection and study success of medical students, and what we can do to support students at risk for drop out. (PhD student vacancy) Dr AJ de Beaufort, Prof dr JA van der Hage.

Scientific Training and Engagement

Prof dr FW Dekker, Dr FM van Blankenstein

The subprogram Scientific Training and Engagement focusses on academic skills, scientific training and engagement of medical students at the undergraduate level in biomedical research. Scientific engagement refers to an attitude of the student towards science and an inquiring mind, resulting in active participation in research projects. This engagement in research can be modeled, internalized, practiced, and developed to a certain extent. The LUMC medical curriculum aims to improve and strengthen the academic skills and attitudes of all students, and to encourage those students with over-average academic ambitions and potential to develop their academic skills further by voluntary courses and participation in high level medical research projects (Honors program). In the research program motivation and engagement, clinical reasoning, and scientific output of students are being studied. Current PhD-projects are:

  • Motivation and engagement for research among medical students in the Bachelor/Honors program. BWC Ommering (PhD student), Prof dr FW Dekker, Dr FM van Blankenstein.
  • Student engagement in research in medical education. M Vereijken (PhD student), Prof dr FW Dekker, Prof dr J van Driel, Dr RM van der Rijst.
  • Scientific output as a result of masters’ students research projects. (PhD student vacancy), Prof dr FW Dekker.

Future themes

As the research group started only mid-2016, in the coming years, existing research lines will be strengthened and expanded.

Cohesion within LUMC

The research group on medical education is strongly embedded within the LUMC organization by its leaders who have appointments in the Clinical Divisions of the LUMC as well. Research projects, innovations, and interventions are conducted in close collaboration with faculty from various clinical and basic science departments, such as the departments of Nephrology (MOOC), Anatomy and Surgery (Augmented Reality), Clinical Epidemiology (Academic and Scientific skills), and Cardiology (Peer Discussion). The research group maintains close contacts with the medical education research program of the department of Public Health and Primary Care (Prof AWM Kramer), and with the clinical teaching unit which is currently being developed by the department of Internal Medicine. The cohesion within the LUMC is also evident in the departments of Cardiology, Surgery, Obstetrics, and Internal Medicine which offered additional PhD positions to perform research in medical education in collaboration with the research group.

The research projects of the group are approved and monitored by a Scientific Research Committee consisting of the members: prof dr FW Dekker (chair), dr ir PGM de Jong (secretary), prof dr WF Admiraal (ICLON), dr AJ de Beaufort, dr FM Blankenstein, prof dr JA van der Hage, dr BP Hierck, prof dr AWM Kramer, prof dr MEJ Reinders, prof dr MC de Ruiter, prof dr P Steendijk, and MJ de Mooij.